May 7, 2010
The MSSW-SIFE Story – Recreating lives...
The association of MSSW with SIFE reached it's peak last year when my college was selected as the finalist of the National SIFE tournament. It was a proud moment for all of us in college and the core team of SIFE did a fabulous job. It was not merely about touching lives, it was beyond that. It was all about recreating lives. I once again thank and congratulate last year's SIFE team for their sincerity and selfless work.
But even this year the students of MSSW will have a lot to cheer about. The new SIFE team consisting of Prof Jayanthi Peter,HOD, Dept of MA-HRM,MSSW[Faculty Incharge]; Hadeeja S; Rakesh Kumar Patil; Madhumitha Sowndararajan;Prashanti. T; Arvind Srikantan; Adline Sophia;Sowmya Mathews;Harish.S;Tanvir Ahmed are working very hard towards multiple projects that could generate a lot of benefits and goodness in various target communities.
I pray and wish that the projects are a huge success. I would like to share a snapshot of this year's projects undertaken by the SIFE core team along with the support of everyone in MSSW.
Following is a write up mailed to me by my good friend and SIFE core team member 'Madhumita Soundarajan':
The Madras School of Social Work, as a pioneering institution in professionalizing social service, has undertaken several initiatives to promote the feeling of community development amongst students. One such quintessential initiative has been the SIFE.
SIFE stands for Students in Free Enterprise. As an NGO, headquartered in USA, it aims at creating self sustainability in a chosen community, by partnering with students from various educational institutions.
Thus, it is synonymous to the saying, “A meal today is for now; A skill today is forever".
MSSW is one such prestigious college to have been partnering with SIFE.
Every year, the MSSW-SIFE team undertakes a new project, targeting at a different community than before. It is interesting to note that students, as a part of this initiative, play the role of facilitators, thereby ensuring the non-dependency of the community on anybody else. This year, the new initiative undertaken has been named “Project Vidiyal”
This project targets the women community who are tsunami victims. The project comprises approximately of 40 women, across different locations in Chennai such as Thiruvanmiyur, Royapuram and Pazhaverkadu. These women belong to the age group 20 years to 40 years.
The community at Thiruvanmiyur (Identified by The TamilNadu Women’s Collective) has been trained on various skills such as candle making, embroidery and artificial flower making. They have also been trained on soft skills such as team building and entrepreneurial skills. The products done by them were also displayed for sale in one of the college festivals. It is to be noted here is that, these women have also been given certificates for undergoing the training program. This authenticity will help them get a loan in future.
The community at Royapuram and Pazhaverkadu are involved in the making of office stationery items (such as notepads, files, pen stands etc, as shown in the picture) made of eco friendly materials such as recycled paper. These women are paid Rs.15 per hour as labour charges for the work they do. The sale proceeds from the products are ploughed back into the business again.
The sife team has been helping the community in active selling by displaying the products in a lot of college fests. From the last week of February till date, the sales proceeds has reached Rs.38,000. The Sife team also helped the community get bulk orders from colleges and corporates.
As a future course of action, the MSSW-SIFE team is currently involved in active branding for the products and in the process, also preparing a product catalogue that could be used by the community representatives on their sales front, for marketing and publicity purposes.
Apart from Project Vidiyal, the team is also involved in the active monitoring of their last year’s sustainable venture, “Project Suyam”. This project focusing on the farming community, is now supporting around 50 families. The project, on one hand, targets a community in Tamabram, involving the cultivation of Vincea Rosea, a drug that is widely used for Cancer treatment. On the other hand, the venture also extends to the outskirts of the city in Melmaruvathur where various leguminous crops such as groundnuts are also being cultivated. These are regularly put through crop rotation to ensure the fertility of the soil. The team proudly conveys that this project has already become sustainable and is continuing to be run in association with Mr. P.S Nathan, Farm Director, Apoorva Farms, Kayapakkam, Kanchipuram Dist, TamilNadu